With all the talk about how service providers are rushing to provide triple plays or quadruple plays of service involving voice, video, data and mobile voice, it's easy to lose track of the fact that it's really all data. Forgetting that fact is just asking for trouble, however, as the data pipe can effectively wipe out the business models for the other ones. It looks like some service providers are going to try to fight this in some manner. Recently, Clearwire took some heat for blocking VoIP, and now some folks have spotted some odd wording in Earthlink's cable broadband terms of service that make it sound like they ban any voice applications on broadband connections. It's not entirely clear what's going on here, because the terms of service are for a cable connection, but the specific section talks about Earthlink's "wireless enhanced access service," which is their 1xRTT offering for slow, but manageable, wireless data connections. Still, the idea that a data service provider should be able to prevent one specific type of data (or, better yet, as the Earthlink TOS seems to imply, charge you $0.95/minute to use) seems to go against the promise they're making in offering service -- which is that you're getting an unlimited data service. Still, someone who does use the service for data can make a pretty credible claim that since Earthlink claims the service is for "data only," that they didn't do anything wrong -- because voice is data.
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